Fleshing out the Rafa Marquez suspension

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Major League Soccer’s disciplinary committee has suspended Rafael Marquez for three games. Quick hits on where the story goes from here:

I had guessed two games. He got three, and I don’t have a big problem with the length. If it had gone the other way (just one) the typing fingers of semi-outrage would have been flying. But two or three – more or less the same in my mind. Justice is served here.

I know some people believe Marquez deserved more; I’ll have more later on why I think the punishment is about right.

The disciplinary committee ruled that Marquez “tackled, fell on and kicked his opponent.” Marquez having done essentially the same thing on the previous San Jose corner kick probably removed any doubt in the five-member committee’s mind that this was some sort of clumsy accident.

It probably would have been one game or possibly two, but Marquez’s splotchy disciplinary history matters in this case. And if history wasn’t enough to warrent a third match, that kick at the end with Marquez’s right boot surely sealed the deal

The matches Marquez will miss:

  • Saturday at D.C. United
  • April 28, at home to New England
  • May 5 at Los Angeles Galaxy

Two of those matches (the games on the road) are ESPN contests, so the network partners won’t be happy with that. (And let this be a lesson to all conspiracy theorists; the disciplinary committee is clearly NOT in cahoots with the league’s broadcast partners.)

Given D.C. United’s injuries along the back line (expansion Montreal gave them problems last night), Saturday’s match was there for the taking. It still is, considering Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper’s splendid form – but swiping all the points just got tougher.

Finally, the disciplinary committee’s busy here, in capsule:

  • Colin Clark: three games (plus fine) for using a homophobic slur on the field
  • Adam Moffat: one game for a reckless challenge
  • Alvaro Fernandez: fined for embellishment of contact
  • Brandon McDonald: one game (plus fine) for a reckless challenge
  • Jair Benitez: one game (plus fine) for violent conduct
  • Atiba Harris: one game (plus fine) for violent conduct
  • Danny Cruz: fined for embellishment of contact
  • Shalrie Joseph: one game (plus fine) for  a reckless challenge
  • Marvin Chavez: one game (plus fine) for  a reckless challenge
  • Rafa Marquez: three games for violent conduct 

El Tri star Lozano staying focusing amid Barcelona rumors

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Hirving “Chucky” Lozano was a player everyone needed to pay attention to heading into the 2018 World Cup, and through two matches, the El Tri star has been every bit the price of admission for his country.

[ MORE: Group scenarios heading into the final group stage matches ]

Mexico sits atop Group F with six points at the moment, and much of the team’s success can be attributed to Lozano’s endless motor and creative attacking vision when he finds space down the wing.

The PSV Eindhoven attacker has been linked with various big clubs, including La Liga giants Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted Lozano’s pursuit of guiding Mexico to an unprecedented run at the World Cup.

“The important thing is to focus on the next [Mexico] game, do as well as possible and go step by step,” Lozano said.

Despite winning their first two games, El Tri needs at least a point in its final Group F match to ensure qualification without any complications.

Mexico will take on Sweden on Wednesday, as Juan Carlos Osorio’s side aims to remain perfect in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Andres Guardado — who has been a mainstay of the Mexican national team for years — only confirmed the work ethic of his teammate and hopes that a dream move becomes a reality for Lozano in the near future.

“It makes me very proud to say he is a kid that is very centered, despite everything he is going through,” said Guardado after Saturday’s 2-1 win over South Korea. “He is conscious that he has to continue like he’s not achieved anything.”

“He’s the same kid I met the first time he came with us,” continued Guardado. “Hopefully he stays like that and the rumors about a possible transfer to a big team become reality. It would be marvelous, he’s a great teammate.”

Video: Salah lob has Egypt off and running in first half

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Egypt’s run at the World Cup didn’t go according to plan, but the Pharaohs are looking in control on Monday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Mohamed Salah‘s second goal of the tournament has given the Egyptians a 1-0 lead over Saudi Arabia in their Group A finale.

After a Saudi giveaway in the attacking half of the field, Salah latched onto a beautiful long ball from Abdallah Said, before lofting a shot over goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.

Video: Suarez gives Uruguay early lead over hosts Russia

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It only took Uruguay 10 minutes to break through, and the South American side could be on its way to capturing a third consecutive victory at the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Barcelona star Luis Suarez scored his second goal of the tournament on Monday, as the veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead early on against hosts Russia.

Suarez stepped up for a free kick just outside the penalty area, and slotted the ball brilliantly past the Russia goalkeeper at his near post.

Both teams have already advanced out of Group A after winning their first two matches, however, Monday’s victor (if there is one) will likely decide who tops the group.

Argentine players likely selecting lineup for Nigeria match

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The Albiceleste entered Russia among the favorites to win the World Cup, but now Argentina is on the brink of disaster and possibly crashing out of the group stage.

Through two Group D matches, Argentina sits on one point, and needs a victory over Nigeria to have a shot at advancing to the knockout phase.

Drastic changes appear to be coming for the CONMEBOL nation, after relations with manager Jorge Sampaoli have soured significantly over the last week-and-a-half.

Rumors have suggested that Lionel Messi and the elder players in the squad will select the starting XI for Argentina’s do-or-die fixture on Tuesday, with Sampaoli simply staying on as manager to avoid further embarrassment to the federation.

Sampaoli is expected to still be on the sidelines for the match, though.

Meanwhile, Argentine television outlet TNT Sports LA revealed a potential lineup ahead of Tuesday’s Group D finale against Nigeria.

The starting XI, if true, would feature four changes from the Albiceleste’s 3-0 defeat to Croatia last Thursday, including the introduction of River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani for Chelsea’s Willy Caballero.